Detective Oh Byeong-ho (Hah Myung-joong) of the Munchang PD gets assigned to the murder of Yang Dal-su (Lee Dae-keun). As he follows the trail of clues, Oh begins to seek out the people linked to Yang Dal-su’s past. He learns that a man named Hwang Ba-wu (Choi Bul-am) had harbored a grudge against Dal-su. He also meets Kang Man-ho, who is somehow connected to Ba-wu, and Sohn Ji-hye (Jeong Yun-hee), a former mistress of Dal-su’s who now works in a bar. During the course of his investigation, Oh discovers a shocking secret: Han Dong-ju, the murder victim in the case that put Ba-wu behind bars, is still alive. Once Oh sets out to track down Han Dong-ju, those around him begin to run interference by eliminating the informant. After a tortuous series of events, it is revealed that Yang Dal-su’s murder is in fact the same case as the murder of a lawyer named Kim Jong-yub, and Ba-wu and Ji-hye’s son Tae-young becomes the prime suspect. Ba-wu serves out his sentence and is released from prison. When he learns that his son has murdered Yang Dal-su and Kim Jong-yub, he declares that everything is his fault and commits suicide. Ji-hye follows suit. Even though the case has been solved and he has discovered a 20-year-old secret, Oh takes his own life out of guilt at having been the cause of Hwang Ba-wu’s family tragedy.
The secret, which came to light after twenty long years, is as follows: During the Korean War, Sohn Suk-jin, the leader of a North Korean guerilla unit deployed in Mt. Jiri, gives a treasure map to his subordinate Kang Man-ho and asks Kang to take care of his daughter Ji-hye, before he dies at the hands of his own men. Kang rapes the young Ji-hye and gets her pregnant. To cover up his actions, he looks the other way when the other members of the unit gang rape Ji-hye. The guerillas kidnap two civilians, Hwang Ba-wu and Han Dong-ju, and force them to travel with the unit. Kindhearted Ba-wu feels compassion for Ji-hye and devotes himself to helping her. The guerillas hide from the pursuit of South Korean soldiers in the basement of an elementary school. Kang resolves to turn himself in, and conveys his decision through Yang Dal-su, who is the leader of a right-wing youth group. But Dal-su and the guerilla suppression unit surround the school, and only Kang Man-ho, Sohn Ji-hye, Hwang Ba-wu, and Han Dong-ju survive the ensuing gunfight. Ji-hye and Ba-wu get married and discover the hidden treasure, using the map given to them by Kang Man-ho. But Dal-su frames Ba-wu for the murder of Han Dong-ju in order to steal Ji-hye and the treasure. Prosecutor Kim Jong-yub, who has been bribed by Dal-su, sentences Ba-wu to death, but he is paroled after serving 20 years in prison. During those 20 years, Ji-hye has given birth to Ba-wu’s son and entrusted him to her sister-in-law. Unable to keep rejecting Dal-su’s importunities, she has become his mistress. When her son, now grown up, learns about the plot that ruined his father’s life, he is consumed by the desire for revenge. Meanwhile, Han Dong-ju, who conspired with Dal-su and has been living in hiding after being declared legally deceased, begins to feel betrayed by Dal-su’s change in attitude. He incites Tae-young to murder Yang Dal-su and Kim Jong-yub. Tae-young commits the murders, but goes mad from the resulting psychological torment. Ji-hye reunites with Ba-wu after his release, and starts working in a bar to pay for her son’s medical expenses. —Korean Film Archive
LEE Doo-yong is the first Korean film director to advance to the Cannes Film Festival with ‘Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women’(1983). After debuting with ‘Ilheonbeorin myeongsapo’ in 1969, LEE has made more than 60 films in a wide array of genres. In the 1970s, he rose to the status of Korea’s representative action film director by introducing Korean-style action films that were differentiated from the then-mainstream Hong Kong-style action films. In the 1980s, he grabbed the limelight again by making popular historical movies that portrayed the oppressed lives of Chosun Dynasty women with a touch of eroticism. Of such films, ‘The Hut’(1980), won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and ‘Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women’ was screened to rave reviews at many prestigious film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival. With his directing talent that crosses over many genres, LEE even reaches realism in the 1990s by depicting lives of poverty-stricken… read more